Mathematics is not the only language in the book of nature

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Nguyen, James; Frigg, Roman
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preprint description
How does mathematics apply to something non-mathematical? We distinguish between a general application problem and a special application problem. A critical examination of the answer that structural mapping accounts offer to the former problem leads us to identify a lacuna in these accounts: they have to presuppose that target systems are structured and yet leave this presupposition unexplained. We propose to fill this gap with an account that attributes structures to targets through structure generating descriptions. These descriptions are physical descriptions and so there is no such thing as a solely mathematical account of a target system.